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Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
At the risk of everyone who is listening to this making fun of me, I’m going to tell you something. I, Amy Bushatz, am afraid of riding my bike outside.
That’s right. And here’s the reason: In the past I have fallen off with some regularity, and it’s embarrassing and it hurts and it’s scary and I just don’t like it.
The reason I fall off is that I have this way too fancy triathlon bike, a Kestral Talon, which I bought in 2010 when I thought triathlons were going to be something I really enjoyed and wanted to do a lot. But then it turned out that while I had a lot of fun doing them in the lower-48, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore when we moved to Alaska.
And honestly the cycling part of triathlon was never something I was really comfortable with. And I’m pretty sure that comes back to the falling. That’s because my fancy bike includes clip pedals and shoes that clip onto these pedals, and getting off and on them is a bit of an art, and takes a certain amount of practice and consistency, and was not something I picked up easily. Therefore, while I was learning to do it while we lived in Washington and Tennessee I fell off while trying to dismount — like, a lot. And it was always at the lowest speed possible. When I’m falling off my bike I even have time to say “i’m falling now” but can’t do anything about it. It’s spectacular — if by spectacular you mean funny in a pointing, laughing while I’m bruised sort of way.
And then there are the cars. If you feel like you’re trapped on your bike if you have to stop and take your feet off the pedals, you might also feel like you’re likely to get nailed by a car at any moment. I can confirm that this is true, because that’s how I feel.
And so I avoid riding my bike outside because it’s scary. That means I have zero opportunity to get better at clipping and unclipping and zero chance to feel safer riding because I am never, ever purposefully on my bike. You can see the vicious cycle.
I hired a coach to help me get ready for my 100 mile race at the end of July, and she has cycling on the schedule as cross training. That means I can either spend an hour a week with my bike on the trainer – a stand that turns it into a stationary bike and whew boy is that boring – and miss that outdoor time, or I can get over myself and take it outside. Like it or not, I’ll be biking.
It occured to me as I was avoiding another ride outside that if one of you were to tell me this story about how you hate biking because it scares you, I would probably give you a nice pep talk about all of the marvelous things you learn by doing hard things outside, overcoming fears and whatnot. We’d have a really great conversation about it, and hopefully we’d both leave inspired.
And so I had that conversation with myself. It went something like this.
Amy. You are not practicing what you preach. Instead you are giving into a fear. It is not a baseless fear because you truly DO fall off the bike and you COULD get hit by a car and die. But that doesn’t mean you should confront it and try anyway. If you’re going to bike and the weather does not suck, you are going to do it outside. And then, at the end of this season, we’ll see if you feel better about the whole thing. Maybe you’ll still hate cycling. That’s OK. But at least you would have tried.
So that’s what I’m going to do. This is my commitment to practice what I preach, give it a go and see what I learn. And yeah, maybe I really will still hate it. But at least I’ll know I put in some effort.
Meanwhile, we took the van out for a test camping run before we take it on a real family trip soon. After a very long week which included the end of the school year and my graduation from grad school, I decidedly did NOT want to make the effort to go camping. But I knew that I would be glad I did in the end, and so we loaded up and drove to a nearby campground where we spent an hour by the fire before heading to bed for the night, then started the next day with an easy morning by the fire again. And of course it was perfect. The van was comfortable and warm, I got to try out some of its features, like the running water in the sink, and we really did have a great time. We padded the rest of the weekend with two fabulous runs and a long afternoon church picnic. It was just the restorative, outdoor centric weekend I needed.
If you’re thinking about how you want to spend the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, please consider pausing to remember the purpose of the day, which is to honor America’s fallen service members. It’s so easy to do this — all you need to do is take a few moments to express gratitude. One way to do that is to participate in wear blue: run to remember’s annual Memorial Day event wherever you are. Pledge to walk or run a certain distance in honor of the fallen, and register on their website at wearblueruntoremember.org. If you don’t have a specific service member you’re remembering they’ll assign you one. They are looking to have 65,502 participants this year to remember the 65,502 American service members killed since the beginning of the Vietnam War. That’s a big number, but every fallen individual is worth remembering and honoring. I hope you’ll join me in participating.
I also hope your outdoor time has been challenging, interesting, restorative and enriching just like mine. I’m excited for a summer of endless days full of the adventures we take time to seek. You can, of course, see a photo of my daily outdoor time on the Humans Outside instagram and Facebook pages. Share yours with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there!